I have had several parents inquire about how we conduct our contact tracing at Harding Academy, and if our contact tracing includes activities that occur off campus. These are great questions that I think many people in our community may be interested in knowing more about, so I will go over it here. The first thing to know is that we have a COVID-19 response team. This team is made up of several different school personnel that can give input on the various different possible points of exposure on campus. This team is kept informed of any pending COVID-19 tests, and as soon as we are notified of a positive case in our community, our response team goes into action, whether it is during the week or weekend. We immediately start talking and divide up the tasks at hand.
For contact tracing, to determine who is considered a close contact of the positive case, we start looking back 48 hours prior to the start of symptoms, if the individual was symptomatic, or 48 hours prior to the date of the test, if the individual was asymptomatic. During that time period, anyone who had been 6 ft or closer for an accumulation of 10 min or more, over a 24 hr period during that time will be considered a close contact. Since it is an accumulated 10 min we will need to quarantine more strictly than we may have prior to that change in protocol.
As we conduct our contact tracing, we are not only talking with the teachers, and other faculty and staff who work with the individual on campus, but we also talk with the parents to assess any other possible scenarios where other Harding Academy students may have been exposed off campus. This includes inquiries about things such as carpools, sleepovers, recreational sports, parties, dance classes, etc. We do rely on the parents to tell us any contact tracing that needs to be done outside of school that involves any students from Harding Academy.
Once the COVID-19 response team has confirmed with each other that thorough contact tracing has been complete, David Skeen sends out emails to inform our community. The first email is sent to the parents of any students who have been determined to be a close contact, with instructions to quarantine and our strong recommendation that their child be tested for COVID-19. Once those parents have been notified, an email is sent out to the faculty and staff and a separate email is sent out to all current parents at Harding Academy. At that point it is our hope that the contact tracing has been thorough and complete, but there may be instances where we learn of additional potential exposures that were somehow missed, and if that is the case we will contact those parents ASAP to inform them that their child needs to quarantine. This does not happen often, but it is a possibility.
Please note that while conducting our contact tracing, and as we communicate to the families, it is a high priority for us to keep the name of the individual private. We only tell those who need to know the name in order for contact tracing to be done. If you are informed that your child is considered a close contact, while we are happy to answer questions that you may have, we may not be able to tell you the exact time and place where they were potentially exposed since that would give up the identity of the student who tested positive. Thank you for your understanding on this matter.
Moira Clark, RN, BSN